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CRIME

Germany arrests five men over suspected IS terror plot

German police have arrested five Tajik nationals on suspicion that they were members of an Islamic State group terror cell that had been planning attacks on US forces stationed in Germany, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Germany arrests five men over suspected IS terror plot
The entrance to Germany's Federal Court. Photo: DPA

Four of the suspects were arrested after dawn raids on Wednesday targeting
several apartments and six other locations in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Another Tajik national was previously detained.

The five were also allegedly planning attacks on individuals they deemed critical of Islam, prosecutors in the city of Karlsruhe said.

The suspects — named as Azizjon B., Muhammadali G., Farhodshoh K.,
Sunatullokh K. and Ravsan B. — are accused of joining the Islamic State group in January 2019 and initially planning to carry out attacks in Tajikistan.

READ ALSO: Man handed 10 year jail term for biological bomb plot in Germany

They then switched their focus to Germany after receiving instructions from two high-ranking IS leaders in Syria and Afghanistan, prosecutors said.

The five men had been planning to attack targets including US air bases and had already ordered bomb parts online, as well as stocking up on firearms and ammunition.

They also planned an assassination attempt on a person they believed had
expressed Islam-critical views in public, and had already begun spying on the intended victim, prosecutors said.

Two of the suspects are also accused of travelling to Albania to carry out an assassination attempt in exchange for $40,000. However, the project failed and they returned to Germany.

Warning

Germany has long warned of the threat of more violence ahead after several attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, the bloodiest of which was a truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that left 12 people dead.

In June 2018, German police said they foiled what would have been the first biological attack with the arrest of a Tunisian suspected IS supporter in possession of the deadly poison ricin and bomb-making material.

More recently, police in the western city of Offenbach arrested three men in November 2019 for allegedly planning a bomb attack in the name of IS.

READ ALSO: German police arrest three suspects over 'planned terrorism attack near Frankfurt'

That same month, a Syrian was arrested in Berlin accused of having procured key components for an explosive device and discussing bomb-making tips with
other suspected Islamists in an online chat group.

Germany's security services estimate there are around 11,000 Islamic radicals in Germany, some 680 of whom are deemed particularly dangerous and capable of using violence — a five-fold increase since 2013.

Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its
involvement in the coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment
in Afghanistan since 2001.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has allowed in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015 — a decision that has driven the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which charges that the influx spells a heightened security risk.

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  1. “Germany’s security services estimate there are around 11,000 Islamic radicals in Germany, some 680 of whom are deemed particularly dangerous and capable of using violence — a five-fold increase since 2013.“. And who invited them?

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CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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